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Update Nov 2013: really strange that after a couple of years of not having seen it, I had lost almost all memory of the film… did somebody inject me with a new memory and forgot to mix in the “Dark City” fluid? But that’s great, I love to discover new films, even if I have seen them already. What struck me at second watching is the great composed performance by William Hurt (always a favourite of mine since “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and the dangerous but well-played balance Kiefer Sutherland finds between playing goofy mad scientist and dreamy visionary. And Ms Connelly is even more pretty than she was, or maybe I just appreciate this more these days…

Original notes of 2008:

Whew, and dark it is, this piece by Alex “The Crow” / “I, Robot” Proyas. He can do dark, and he can do stylish. The film is a mixture in production design of Sin City or The Matrix, but also of other comics such as Dick Tracy and his relatives. It was a style-setter for those first two, no doubt, and looks fantastic. Even the cgi is surprisingly smooth when you consider that the film has been done at a time when the T2-Morphing was considered to be state of the art.

The characters are pleasantly creepy, Jack Baur in particular who plays Kiefer Sutherland, er… no: Kiefer S. plays the mad scientist, who is not so mad, but has a bit of a monkey on his back. That monkey is alien, pale and has a BMI of around 12. When cut open, transparent blubber erupts and the hostile creatures from beyond show their true faces.

Time-stopping, memory-imprinting, telekinesis, mass delusion, on and on and on go the motifs of atmospheric dark SciFi, set in the 1930s, I would judge from the hats.

William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly, and … oh yes! Richard “Riff Raff” O’Brien?! Very nice, indeed.

It has to be asked: why would those citizens who did not get a good shot of new memory into their frontal lobes not question the new look and feel with which the city presents itself to them every midnight after they wake up from undetected naps? Why do the cars not crash when everybody falls asleep, why do people not smash their brains on the concrete when they black out at midnight? Ah what the hell … if you are willing not to question the logic of the plot too thoroughly, the film is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of nonsense that helps you forget revising vocabulary or preparing for conferences, if desired.

When everything comes together – or apart, rather – at the end, some stunning bits of correctness reveal themselves, and elements taken easily for granted in similar genre films (why is it always dark? Why does the film’s city look like a mixture between an Al Capone movie and a Star Wars settlement?) receive easy and on-the-mark explanations (without explaining, of course, that would be boring, and boring it ain’t).

A “glorious marriage of existential dread and slam-bang action.”, well said, Mr Ebert, in your rave review.

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